The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, simply known as the Glyptotek is an art museum in Copenhagen, Denmark. In Danish “ny” means “new”; and “Glyptotek” has Greek origin, glyphein, to carve and theke is a storing place. Glyptotek’s superlative collection included over 10,000 pieces of artwork; sculptures and paintings.

The origin of the museum dates back to 1885, when Carl Jacobsen (1842-1914) of the Carlsberg Breweries, an industrialist, a patron of the arts and a passionate art collector, opened his art collection to the public. His collection consisted of Greek and Roman marble sculptures and 19th-century France and Denmark art pieces.

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The North Facade of the Original Museum Today_©Photo by Ole Haupt

A state-owned museum was built on purpose. After 12 years of opening, in the year 1897, this collection was moved into the new building.

The Rule at the Glyptotek

Carl Jacobsen believed that art could touch, beautify and enrich the lives of everyone. But in contrast to the traditional museum, Carl did not believe that the visitor should be overburdened with scientific and academic systems. Rather art should speak directly to the individual.

The Glyptotek with its varied architecture gives each visitor a chance to disengage from the day today. The world-class collection offers a new perspective on human existence, civilisation and culture to individuals who visit the museum.

The Collection

The present collection of the museum is built around that of Carl Jacobson. Once primarily a sculpture museum, the collection now includes paintings and antiques from ancient cultures. Apart from the works from France, Denmark, Greek and Roman culture, the artwork also comes from Egypt, the Mediterranean, as well as include modern sculptures of Auguste Rodin.

The collection of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek includes the largest collection of antique art in Denmark. It also houses some European modern art. The antique collection comprises sculptures, frescoes, vases, bronze objects, sarcophagi and mummies from the ancient civilisation. The collection dates from 6,000 BC to the 5th century AD.

Some notable pieces include the stone head of the Egyptian king Amenhotep II from the 15th century BC, an entire tomb of an Etruscan prince from the 8th century BC excavated near Sabine Hills and a marble head of Emperor Caligula from the 1st century AD, which still retains some traces of its original painted decoration.

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Head of Emperor Caligula_©Photo by Ana Cecilia Gonzales

The 18th and 19th-century art collections include paintings and sculptures by artists of the Danish Golden Age and the Impressionist and post-Impressionist movements. Some names include Jens Juel, Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, Vincent van Gogh, Edger Degas and Paul Gaugin- along with sculptures by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and Auguste Rodin.

The modern work includes pieces from Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti.

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Painting by Pablo Picasso- Landscape from Saint-Rémy, 1889_©Photo by Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

Architecture

The buildings of this one museum are many. And architecture has been affected by many different architects and styles since the construction and addition of new blocks was done slowly over the years.

The original building, the Dehlerup building, was inaugurated in 1897. The Danish architect Jens Vilhelm Dahlerup designed the new building. It is the first designed building of the museum. Today this structure houses French Art (1800-1870), Danish and French Sculpture and Danish Art (1780-1930). 

The building’s three wings are in a historic style inspired by the Venetian Renaissance. The interiors are richly decorated; ceilings are painted, mosaic floors, marble columns and the walls are adorned by reliefs. The earlier version of the design of the original Dahlerup building includes a massive dome that was never built.

A winter garden and an extension block called the Kampmann building were added to the existing building in 1906. These were designed by architect Hack Kampmann. This four-winged building has a collonaded central hall as its centre. The architecture here is more influenced by the classical style. The south-facing facade has a stepped pyramid.

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The Winter Garden_©Photo by Kim Nilsson

The most recent addition to the building complex is the climate-controlled building in 1996. This building was designed by the architect Hennig Larsen (1925-2013). This modern building is three floored and has a rooftop terrace with a panorama of Copenhagen. Larsen found his inspiration in both Egyptian buildings and small Mediterranean mountain villages.

The museum underwent an extensive renovation in the year 2006. Under the architectural firm Dissing+Weitling. The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek also includes an auditorium, a library, a shop and a cafe located in the winter garden.

The Auditorium

This space is mainly used for classical concerts (including the Helge Jacobsen concert series). The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is known for its good acoustics, both in the museum and the surrounding halls. The museum is used by the Early music vocal ensemble as a rehearsal room, often within museum hours. This adds to the overall museum experience. The auditorium is occasionally used for other musical genres including the Danish Klezmer group Mames Babegenush.

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Interiors of the Auditorium_©Photo by Daderot

It is also used for other cultural events such as poetry reading, lectures and debates.

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek with its enormous collection is an oasis of art. Carl Jacobsen’s ideology of not classifying the art into academic or scientific categories still speaks through the design and the overall experience of the museum.

The museum is a cultural centre with an auditorium hosting various events and exhibitions held along with the museum.

References

En.wikipedia.org. 2021. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek – Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ny_Carlsberg_Glyptotek> [Accessed 24 March 2021].

Glyptoteket. 2021. About the museum: What is Glyptoteket and what does the name mean?. [online] Available at: <https://www.glyptoteket.com/about-the-museum/> [Accessed 24 March 2021].

BIANCHINI, R., 2021. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek | Inexhibit. [online] Inexhibit. Available at: <https://www.inexhibit.com/mymuseum/ny-carlsberg-glyptotek-copenhagen/#:~:text=Today%2C%20the%20Ny%20Carlsberg%20Glyptotek,Larsen%20architects%2C%20completed%20in%201996> [Accessed 24 March 2021].

Author

Currently, in the fourth year of B.Arch course at IIT Roorkee, Mansi Dengre is a young and passionate writer. Her area of interest lies in the softer aspects of design, the society, culture and narratives, and green architecture. Sometimes you might find her lost in books and music.

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